Rising from the ashes of an era when tobacco ruled the local economy, Burning Kiln Winery has repurposed and architecturally reconfigured an original tobacco pack barn to pay homage to that fact. We stand as tribute to the resiliency and resolute determination of a region that is determined to make its mark in new frontiers of farming.
Situated on a former tobacco tract, the picturesque winery has been built to preserve the historic charm of its original wooden structure while allowing visitors to view much of the operation from behind giant, contemporary glass walls. Inside, a wonderfully functional, modern working winery shares its secrets of the complete winemaking process while maintaining the warmth of the original wood structure. Tours offer a chronological step through the winemaking practice including the steps of pressing, fermentation, barrel ageing and bottling and speaks to what makes us truly unique.
The winery boasts a most striking of settings perched atop the escarpment overlooking the UNESCO-designated Long Point Bay World Biosphere Reserve. The property is adorned with a comfortable patio, hiking and biking trails and other award-winning activities to be experienced at Long Point Eco-Adventures, adjacent to the property on Front Road in St. Williams, Ontario.
This favourable location affords inspiring views from the winery both over the lush countryside, the vineyards stretching out to adjoining forests and towards the magical sweep of Long Point in sparkling Lake Erie. All in all, an idyllic picture to behold.
Our vineyards use the nutrients and exceptional drainage of this Wattford soil base to produce equally exceptional fruit from our 26 acres of planted French, VQA Vinifera grapes including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Savagnin and Petit Verdot.
Though there are 85 acres in total and adequate room to grow, our goal is to remain at a size which allows us to sustain our focus on quality practices which in turn reflect in every bottle we make. Our size allows for rigorous vigilance by our vineyard management crew led by our Vineyard Manager and Partner, Frank DeLeebeeck. He and his crew actively tend each vine by hand for all aspects of quality control in the vineyard: pruning, tying, training, cropping, netting and finally, hand harvesting. This is the luxury of the scale of our operation that truly does translate from the field to each glass of wine poured from bottles with our label on them.
From the moment we opened our doors in 2011 and presented our first vintage of wines, we used repurposed bulk tobacco kilns to perfect the ancient art of “appassimento” or drying of grapes to enhance flavours and create new taste sensations, a style found in Italy hundreds of years ago. Our Wines immediately began turning the heads of critics of all credentials, professional, amateur and armchair. We won awards in our first vintage for both our reds and whites and in our second vintage, our Strip Room 2011 was selected by the Ontario Legislature as their official wine, a feat unheard of in the industry to date. Since then Strip Room 2013 was also selected for the Ontario Legislature, making this wine one of our most popular in the collection.
Our philosophy is all about respect for the fruit. Respect for the way it is hand picked at harvest, hand-sorted twice over and ultimately, meticulously coaxed to liquid form.
Each year our vines are a little older, their roots a little deeper and our wines seem to always end up a little better than the previous year which always seems to be a tough act to follow.
Lydia Tomek (BSc ’04) began her winemaking career named at the time as Canada’s youngest winemaker. Lydia spent the early days of her career with Hillebrand and Jackson-Triggs Wineries. Lydia became Head Winemaker at Hernder where she spent the last decade.
A graduate of Brock University, Lydia has spent years perfecting her trade and falling in love with wine and the winemaking process all over again. Lydia, an alumna of the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture program, loves the connection she has as a winemaker to the celebrations and memories that people create while drinking her wines.
“It is an incredible feeling and honour to start my new wine adventure with Burning Kiln Winery. Being able to intimately work with grapes grown on Burning Kiln`s rich soils and unique landscape, along with utilizing tobacco kilns in parts of the winemaking process, is an exciting opportunity not only for myself but also for the Ontario South Coast. I look forward to working with so many incredible people to help build the Ontario South Coast as one of Canada’s great wine regions,” says Lydia Tomek, Head Winemaker.
Take a memorable, relaxing drive through small town Ontario in the near southwest part of the province (90 minutes from London, 2 hours from Toronto) and discover our winery and the newest emerging wine region, Ontario’s South Coast.
Norfolk County is a region that has had a love affair with agriculture for hundreds of years and refers to itself as ‘Ontario’s Garden.’ It is steeped in history with the first recorded discovery of grapes by the French Explorers Dollier and Gallinée in 1670.
Today, you can experience the unforgettable Long Point Eco-Adventures with its wilderness tents, bike trails, observatory and fabulous ziplines skirting the escarpment and old-growth Carolinian forest. Or, you can spend time on the many world-class beaches and resort areas, eat at the many culinary stops across the region and shop in the unique, one-of-a-kind merchant shops in any of the quaint villages found here. But maybe, in the wonderfully calm, against-the-grain cruise down here, you’ll simply find solace in the excursion itself.